The grinding of the Volkswagon’s tires against the wet gravel of the roadway almost sounded like a voice, forming words, whispering to her.
Kill it! the Darkness repeated.
Rain blew straight against the speeding car as its twin headlights plowed through the night and the storm. On either side of the muddy road, pine trees tossed their shaggy heads, bent double by the wind, yet the wind seemed to offer no resistance to the car itself, seemed in fact to be behind it, forcing it onward.
*Kill it!* A thunderclap echoed without benefit of lightning, deep and angry. Hurry! the voice in the thunder commanded.
Katie didn’t like hearing the voice. It made her fear she might be going crazy. She knew people with schizophrenia sometimes heard voices. She pushed such thoughts from her mind, turning up the radio to drown them out.
Beside her in the passenger seat, the shoebox began to whimper.
She pushed the accelerator in defiance of the tears that had started to spill from her eyes. The headlights reflected a NO TRESPASSING sign and she hit the brakes. The car slid to a stop at the road’s end, the mud and gravel giving way to wood. Ahead of her, slick and glistening in the high beams, a narrow pier jutted into the black waters of the St. John’s River. Leaving the engine running, she got out and crossed in front of the car to the passenger seat; the security light flashed as she opened the door. She leaned in, picking up the shoebox. It felt warm in her hands.
Katie stood, holding the shoebox to her chest. Rain spilled over her face, washing away her tears.
“I can’t,” she muttered, her voice tiny and weak in her own ears. “I can’t do it.”
You can, the Darkness said, its words in the wind howling around her. You must! Think of your father! What would your father say? What would he do? You know his temper.
“I can’t!” Katie said to the voice.
What choice do you have? The Darkness spoke through the spatter of raindrops on the car’s steaming hood, the swish of the windshield wipers, the purring of the engine. This is for the best.
Katie’s feet were moving almost of their own volition. She headed down the pier.
“I need to think about this,” Katie said. “I can’t think straight. Please.”
Do it! the thunder roared, the voice and the thunder one and the same.
Katie stopped at the end of the pier. She looked down at the thrashing black water a few feet below. She closed her eyes, lifting the shoebox over her head.
Do it! the thunder rumbled, the wind whined, the rain hissed. Kill the little bastard!
Katie threw her burden out into the night. She stood, listening for the splash of the box hitting the water, but the sound yielded to the storm. She watched the little box floating away, bobbing up and down in the waves. With a cry of despair, Katie almost jumped in after it.
Leave it, the Darkness whispered. It is finished.
“I’m sorry!” Katie shouted. “I’m so sorry!” She turned and ran back to the car.
Good, the Darkness said as she slammed the passenger door. Good, as she closed her own.
As Katie backed up, executed a three-point turn in the sodden roadway, and drove away, the rain slackened, the thunder died, and the moaning of the wind through the trees no longer sounded angry.
Now the noises of the storm sounded more like laughter.